Dr. Holly Pedersen wants people to re-evaluate how they define success.
Pedersen, a former Macoun resident who is now the director of the deaf and hard of hearing education program for the Department of Special Education at Minot State University, was the guest speaker at the Quota International of Estevan/SaskPower Women of Today Awards on April 23.
She admits that she wasn't in Estevan to peddle a book on the steps to success.
"There are hundreds of thousands of authors, speakers, writers and bloggers out there to give us information on what is success and how to get it. I am here today to tell you that I am not one of them," Pedersen said, drawing laughter from the hundreds of people who gathered at the Wylie-Mitchell building.
Rather, she wanted to give thoughts on success, and challenge people's definitions about the idea of success. She also drew on experiences in Minot, where she works with young people who have overcome significant listening disabilities, and described how three of those young people have been successful.
"Take the time to form your own definition of success," she said. "If you don't, you will waste significant time and energy chasing after someone else's definition."
The three children she discussed are all profoundly deaf. Emma is going into Kindergarten this fall, but is equally confident using sign language or her voice to communicate. She wants to be a paleontologist or a geologist when she grows up.
The second child is Kailyn, a Grade 3 student who is into singing, dancing and swimming, but is legally blind in addition to her hearing issues. When she was an infant, she was on a breathing tube, and her parents were asked to take her off of life support.
Finally, Pedersen shared the story of James, who is the inspiration for Pedersen's speech. He suffers from several health issues in addition to his hearing problems. He has received cochlear hearing implants, even though doctors were skeptical whether the devices would work for James.
"These three children have really caused me to think about what my definition of success is, and what I want," said Pedersen.
People have multiple opportunities each day to be a positive or a negative influence on someone's life, and Pedersen said it can come during the simplest of times. Those small interactions can then spread to other people over the course of a day.